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Spill-stopping ideas pour into BP, but action slow

NEW ORLEANS - A suggestion box or publicity stunt? BP has received thousands of ideas from the public on how to stop a blown oil well in the Gulf of Mexico, but some inventors are complaining that their efforts are being ignored.

Oil-eating bacteria, bombs and a device that resembles a giant shower curtain are among the 10,000 fixes people have proposed to counter the growing environmental threat. BP is taking a closer look at 700 of the ideas, but the oil company has yet to try any of them nearly a month after the deadly explosion that caused the leak.

"They're clearly out of ideas, and there's a whole world of people willing to do this free of charge," said Dwayne Spradlin, CEO of InnoCentive Inc., which has created an online network to solve problems.

BP spokesman Mark Salt said the company wants the public's help, but that considering proposed fixes takes time. "This is not just a PR stunt," he said.

BP said yesterday it hopes to begin shooting a mixture known as drilling mud into the blown-out well in the Gulf by Sunday. The "top kill" method involves shooting heavy mud into crippled equipment on top of the well, then aiming cement at it to keep the oil down permanently. Even if it works the effort could take several weeks.

Other developments:

Tar balls found in the Florida Keys were not from the spill, the Coast Guard said.

An endangered Kemp's ridley turtle rescued from the spill is being bathed from the inside of its mouth to the tips of its flippers and stubby tail. Audubon Aquariums in New Orleans said the turtle was found by a biologist looking for oiled animals in the slick. More than 150 dead sea turtles have washed ashore since the spill began, but no oil was found on those turtles and their cause of death isn't known.

Senate Democrats called on the Obama administration to improve inspections of deepwater oil rigs, saying oil companies should pay for the emergency inspections, not taxpayers.

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